Sramana Mitra: When did you start United Web?
Tomas Gorny: In 2008. Over the years, United Web became an investment vehicle for our and other businesses. What I’m really focused on and really passionate about is the business that we do now – Nextiva. Nextiva technically started its development on the product in 2006. In 2006, we looked at the telecommunication business.
There was very little innovation in this industry until now. I remember that from my own experience. We had bought this $250,000 Cisco system at IPOWER and installed it, and then had two people manage the system. Then the system went down and Cisco didn’t care basically. It had slow support.
There hasn’t been a tectonic shift in the industry. Back then, the term cloud wasn’t as widely used as it is today. We took the phone system and brought it to the cloud. We started developing our own technology in 2006 to bring the phone system to the cloud. Our mantra was that we wanted small to mid-size businesses to look like Fortune 500 companies. We want them to have the same feature and appearance on the outside.
Sramana Mitra: This is a hosted TBS model?
Tomas Gorny: Yes, but much better.
Sramana Mitra: You launched this company in 2006?
Tomas Gorny: We launched in 2008. In May of 2008, we acquired our very first customer. We celebrated six years in business just last month. Today, we are the third largest telecommunication provider in Arizona. We are one of the largest business cloud communication provider nationwide and we are the largest privately-held business cloud communication provider. The reason I’m saying that is that we benefited from the fact that Vocalocity and other competitors went public. We are actually recognized as the third largest telecommunication provider based on the number of employees.
Sramana Mitra: It sounds like somewhere along the way, you moved from Southern California to Arizona.
Tomas Gorny: Yes, that was during the IPOWER days.
Sramana Mitra: What is the structure of Nextiva? Is this something that you funded yourself?
Tomas Gorny: I funded it all myself.
Sramana Mitra: This company now has external investors?
Tomas Gorny: It’s just me and one of the other shareholders.
Sramana Mitra: It’s a fantastic story. My absolute sincere congratulations for how you navigated your life and the attitude you have towards life. One thing you kept saying which I loved was you didn’t feel pity for yourself as you were going through the hardships. I love that. In our industry, there are so many people who don’t do well and then they make excuses for why they didn’t do well. It’s pathetic to watch.
Tomas Gorny: When I was living in Germany and I was able to navigate these vendors, I used to say this to myself, “I may speak with an accent, but I don’t think with an accent.” Your obstacles are your strength. Your biggest strength is going to be sometimes your biggest weakness.
Sramana Mitra: People underestimating you is not always a bad thing.
Tomas Gorny: It’s a great thing for various reasons. First of all, I prefer it this way. Business wise, it’s the greatest thing you can have.
Sramana Mitra: I thoroughly enjoyed your story. Thank you.